Lower Broadway development under scrutiny

On August 14, 2013, in Latest News, by The Somerville Times

The new development on Broadway has its supporters and detractors, each eager to have the Somerville Planning Board see it their way.~Photo by Harry Kane

The new development on Broadway has its supporters and detractors, each eager to have the Somerville Planning Board see it their way. – Photo by Harry Kane

By Harry Kane

A new residential and commercial project at the edge of Somerville has been stalled because of concerns that the property under development is too close to the neighboring house.

The plan to rehabilitate the first three buildings in East Somerville at 2, 4 and 6-8 Broadway is a project that many want to see happen. However, the design must first be approved by the Somerville Planning Board.

The transit-oriented development sits on the line of Somerville and Boston, nearby the Sullivan Square Station. When the project is complete, the residents of the new units will receive free T passes, to attract non-car driving tenants and encourage use of public transportation, according to the present proposal by the planning staff. There is also talk of giving these residents some free access to Zip Cars.

The scope of the project involves rehabbing two of the buildings, maintaining the structures and building heights, and reconstructing the third house into a 4-story building that would include a parking area in the rear. The sticking point in this project is the proximity to the abutter’s home. The current design only has a 6.5 foot gap between the reconstructed apartment building and the concerned homeowners’ house.

Remo Avellani lives behind the proposed redevelopment and doesn’t like the idea of sharing such close quarters with his neighbors. Avellani expressed his concern about the safety of his house and his family in a prepared statement presented to the public Panning Board hearing on August 8. “I would like to see the building set back,” he said, regarding the third building. Avellani has lived on 8 Mount Pleasant St., which was built in 1841, since 1964.

Owner Marty Henry of the Mount Vernon Restaurant & Pub, located at 16 Broadway, said he was disappointed with the lack of transparency associated with the proposed development. According to Henry, there was no notice of a July 1 community meeting to discuss the project. “Something should have been sent out from the city,” he said. Henry looks forward to the development, but wants more information.

The lawyer who presented the project at the public hearing said the neighbors had been properly notified of the meeting. The applicant carried around some “600 different flyers” to the abutting properties. They also received emails from the Ward One Alderman. “We flyered the neighborhood like crazy,” said Adam Dash, attorney at law, who addressed the planning board with the design for the project.

Planning board member Michael A. Capuano, ESQ. said he liked the project, but thought it was inappropriate to build so close to the Avellanis’ home. “I don’t want to be completely negative,” he later said. “I want to congratulate the client on actually doing something with the property, it’s been terrible for years.”


14 Responses to “Lower Broadway development under scrutiny”

  1. ritepride says:

    Let us hope that if “planning board member Michael A. Capuano, ESQ.”
    who is siding with the home owner, remains totally supportive of the man who has owned the home since 1964. If Mr. Capuano is the same person who is running for Ward 7 Alderman, it is imperative that he be like the present Alderman, Bob Trane, who historically has been very supportive of the residents when any development issues arise.

    There is way too much development in this city of 4 sq. miles. New construction is being allowed that places buildings in too close proximity to existing residences. The recent fires in the past few weeks in older neighborhoods with buildings in close proximity to each other has resulted in multiple homes being affected by the fire. The planning board should demand greater space between buildings in new construction.

  2. no clue says:

    get the facts straight. this is not the same person. you have no idea what you’re talking about.

  3. MarketMan says:

    ritepride: I agree with your first paragraph, but not your second one. We are in an urban area, and with that comes density. I just came back from SoCal, where the weather is beautiful but everyone is forced to drive everywhere because things are so far away. I wasn’t exacatly in the middle of nowhere, yet I had to drive 7 miles to reach a CVS-like convenient store! Ugh! sprawl sucks!

  4. Mary says:

    Michael Capuano is the brother of the man running for Ward 7 Alderman, son of Congressman Mike Capuano.
    The Planning Board, and the Fire Inspectors, do what the Mayor wants. They approve pretty much whatever comes before them, no matter what. They occasionally make a negative comment, as Michael did re: the Washington Street building, but in the end vote the way that is expected. The mayor has bought the souls of the planning board, the zoning board of appeals, and the board of aldermen.

  5. MarketMan says:

    Mary: sad state of affairs. I have not been impressed with the Capuano’s as our political leaders.

  6. Joan F says:

    Mary, what makes you think that? Michael Capuano’s comments at the first public hearing on Washington Street made SCC change their project, and when they did, he said the changes met the modifications the neighbors needed and so he voted for it. James Kirylo still voted against the project even after it was changed. Both this paper and the Journal reported that. How that equates to having their “souls bought” confuses me.

  7. ritepride says:

    “no clue” your true to your name….I said….” I F “

  8. fireguy says:

    Hey Mary,

    The fire inspectors are always looking out for the citizens of Somerville, you are wrong about the rubber stamp.

  9. Marie says:

    I have attended multiple PB and ZBA meetings regarding neighborhood developments. It’s a pattern. The developer pulls the old propose more than you want, then you cut it back to what you wanted in the first place, to ‘appease’ neighbors. When the chair tells abutters at a meeting that their job is to make the neighbors ‘comfortable’ with the project, and no one seems to be familiar with MA or even Somerville laws, something is wrong. Some fire inspectors will okay anything, regardless of fire safety. I’ve seen it happen.

  10. ritepride says:

    any inspectors that are rubber stamping to please the mayor/developers have to realize that they will be the ones facing jail and loss of pension. One questionable inspector left Somerville, went to Framingham and pulled the same crap and is now being dealt with by the authorities…Where was the D.A. & State Attorney General when he was doing his crap in Somerville???

  11. Larry says:

    But, but, but… they gave us (liberal nitwits) a bikepath!!!! They’re the bestest in the whole wide world!!!

  12. A Neighbor says:

    Why is there parking being made for the building if they are encouraging a car free lifestyle? A free pass and free zipcar account AND offstreet parking? Who is paying for these? Sounds more like a desperate developer trying to convince people to live next to 93 traffic. Can you imagine if they gave everyone in Somerville who lives close to bus lines and train lines the same thing?

  13. Joan F says:

    A Neighbor, if you actually read the story and look at the proposal on the city’s website, you’ll see that the developer, not the city, is giving the residents free T passes, are THINKING about giving Zipcar passes, and are NOT providing any more parking on the site than is already there.

  14. Bob says:

    I have confidence that the developer and Mr. Avellani will be able to work out a setback that doesn’t loom over his house. If I were in Mr. Avellani’s shoes, I would consider selling my house to the developer since the property is also zoned for five stories. With all the money I would make, I would enjoy a nice retirement. But I’m not Mr. Avellani, and he’s entitled to live in house as long as he wants.

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